The Strad's experts evaluate the latest string recordings
The Road to Damascus
Folk fiddling explores music from both sides of the Atlantic
Tuesday, 01 March 2011
Black Socks Press CD 28 (www.notoriousfolk.com)
The Notorious central duo of fiddler–singer Eden MacAdam-Somer and guitarist–banjo-player Larry Unger are joined by mandolin, percussion and bass here in a collection of traditional and original American folk tunes, peppered with a couple of Eastern European tunes.
There’s not a preamble in sight as they launch straight into the Bluegrassy title track, setting the tone of much of the album: the ensemble is tight but unfussy, propulsive without forcing the pace or the volume and with a bass that brings depth but not attack. The fiddle is able to weave easily but deftly around this, with lower-string harmonies melding into the group sound and the tune bobbing along on the surface.
There’s an understated variety running through the disc, too. MacAdam-Somer slots into the Latin feel of Sumari’s Waltz with a looser sense of time and longer, caressing strokes; and while her rather Celtic take on a Romanian wedding song might unsettle the aficionado, she proves that she has a Balkan style in her kitbag elsewhere. Additionally, the use of viola in a couple of songs brings a gruff voice to an album that makes its mark without needing to dazzle.
From the March 2011 issue. Subscribe to The Strad or download our digital edition as part of a 30-day free trial.